Food & Drink Magazine

Keeping It Real in The English Kitchen, My First Lesson in Controlling Diabetes

By Mariealicerayner @MarieRynr
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Hello everyone.   Last Friday I was diagnosed as having Type 2 Diabetes.   I don't know how someone goes from being normal to Type 2 overnight, but that's what happened.   I only know that I had not been feeling really well for a long time.  I was very tired and experiencing blurred vision from time to time.  In the Spring, I experienced an Posterior Vitreous Detachment, or PVD, in my left eye, which was somewhat worriesome.  When I had the first scan of back of my eye,  the Opthamologist told me that there were signs that I had experienced an aneurism at the back of my eye,  and that an artery was blocked had probably been so for some time as it was all white.  But then, magically . . .  when I went back a few months later for  a re-test, it had fixed itself.   Still worriesome, but not as bad I suppose.  I was also experiencing periods of giddiness or feeling faint if I went overlong without eating, etc.
In any case, I didn't exhibit any of the usual symptoms . . .  excessive thirst, frequent loo breaks,  acidic fruity breath, and I definitely had not suffered from weight loss!  (More's the pity!)
When I went for my yearly check up a few weeks ago and had fasting blood tests done I was completely shocked to find out that (after two conclusive tests) I am now a Type 2 Diabetic.
Also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes melitus (NIDDM), this is  more common than Type 1.   Being overweithg is a risk factor for developing this type of Diabetes, along with poor diet and lack of exercise.  Heredity is also a factor.   (My father is diabetic as is my middle son, but I did not know until last Friday that, almost all of my father's siblings are also diabetic and some of my cousins as well.  Knowledge is key.  I wish I had known this sooner.)
With this type of diabetes, insulin production is reduced (not ceased), so the rise in blood glucose levels is more gradual.  Some insulin is being released, but not enough to process sufficient glucose for the system to function normally.
The bad news . . .  I will always have it.
The good news  . . .  with a change in diet and exercise it can be managed.  I have also been put on a low dose (to start and hopefully stay with) of metformin, one 500g pill a day.
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I confess . . .  after the diagnosis and talk with the nurse, when I got back to the car, I cried a little bit.   I love food and I love to cook.  I also love to eat, which is probably what got me into this mess!  Too many treats!!  My life changed in an instant.  I am only 60 years old, which to you youngsters might seem pretty old, but I conceivably should have another 20 or so years of life left in me, maybe more . . .  and I want them to be the best and the healthiest they can be.  Obviously something has to change, and with that in mind I will be changing the focus of The English Kitchen to healthier food and options in the future.   Diabetic friendly options.  Along the way I will be learning and I am hoping that you will all come along on the journey with me.  The old recipes will still be here, and of course there will be the occasional treats.  What would life be worth, if not for the occasional treat!!! For the most part, however,  we are getting down and dirty with healthy eating here from here on!
It's going to be fun actually, as I am going to be trying to revamp my old favourites into something I can eat, coming up with new favourites and hopefully getting healthier along the way.
I haven't cooked anything new in the house since I got the diagnosis as I have been trying hard to figure out what I should be eating and what I shouldn't.  But you can look for some new things soon.
In the meantime, here is what I have learned thus far!
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This is my dinner plate from last night.  This is a 9 inch plate.  For portion control this is what is recommended and actually what I have been using all along.   They recommend that you use a 9 inch plate, and a 1 cup glass (225ml) for milk, a 1/2 cup dish for fruit or desserts (125g approx.) and a 1 cup bowl for cereal or soup. (225ml)
If you look at my plate, you can see it is roughly divided this way . . .  one whole half of the plate is non starchy vegetables ( green beans, broccoli and cauliflower) , then in the top right hand quarter of the plate, I have something starchy (a kid sized baked potato with a dollop of plain yogurt on top, instead of sour cream.)  You could also have a whole grain rice or pasta or some other whole grain starch.  Corn, peas and beans also count as a starchy food.  Beans are also protein. (Fibre is important). The lower right hand quarter is reserved for protein.   I have a half of a pork cutlet, which is protein. (DON'T look at the breading!  It's all I had until I went shopping and I had to eat!  I could have eaten a whole one, but only ate a half, so it's not so bad as it could have been.)  Ideally you should choose lean meat.   I was told by the nurse to eat red meats sparingly, so the wisest choices would be chicken or fish.  Tofu, eggs, cheese and nuts also count as proteins.
In addition to the full plate, I could enjoy a cup of fat free milk or light yogurt (plain) and a small piece of fruit or 1/2 cup (125g) canned (in juice) fruit on the side.
Keeping to low fat choices, a meal with these sides and each of the three plate components totals 55 to 60 grams of carbohydrate and approximately 350 to 400 calories, just so long as you don't pile the food up to make up for the smaller sized plate.  No more than about the thickness of your index finger should do the trick! Non-starchy vegetables should be the tallest section.
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Don't panic.  Eating to control your diabetes doesn't have to be boring.   You can use the same plate method with mixed dishes such as casseroles, pizza, tacos and sandwiches too.  You just need to think in terms of the ingredients separately, which isn't such a stretch really.
  • A salad with grilled chicken and croutons, could easily cover every section of the plate:  greens, carrots, and tomatoes for the non starchy vegetables, Chicken for the protein, and croutons/pasta/rice/etc. for the starch or grain. 
  • In casseroles, you can assemble them in layers first, so that you can see how much protein versus vegetables and starches you are getting.  So if you layer the casserole with 1/2 non starchy veg, 1/4 protein and 1/4 starch, you should be okay.  And a low fat milky sauce, etc. could be counted as one of the extras, so long as you keep the proportions right, ie.  for four servings, only 2 cups of sauce would be ideal.
Anyways, I think that is enough to digest for today and hopefully you have learned something along with me.   I'll be back tomorrow,  ideally, with a new recipe!  I do hope you will all come along on the journey with me.  I promise you it will be as delicious a journey as I can make it!

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